Last week saw the end of our Big Lottery-funded programme, Making Health Work. And we’re very pleased to say it’s going out on a high, having exceeded its targets and created many new opportunities for the young people involved.
What was Making Health Work?
We’ve been running Making Health Work in partnership with the Foyer Federation. The idea was to get young people thinking about the ways in which work impacts on health – and health impacts on work.
We ran a number of Health Action Projects and Health Taster Days with local schools and organisations, and our volunteer Health Ambassadors were on hand throughout, creating some really interesting conversations about the health and lifestyle issues that sometimes create barriers for young jobseekers.
Exceeding our expectations
We’re really pleased to be able to tell you that the outcomes for the Health Action Projects were met, and often exceeded, for every project.
For example, one of our targets was for the young people involved in the projects to reach 50 wider beneficiaries. However, we found that the work they did actually enabled them to reach over 400 people – over eight times as many as we’d hoped! – whilst becoming more employable, confident individuals themselves.
The final Health Action Projects
On 9th and 10th April we worked with Street League again, this time as part of an Easter fitness camp for 6 to 14 year olds run by FITCAP (Fitness In The Community and Active Play).
Some of the young people we’d worked with on the previous Street League project came back to work as coaches and Health Ambassadors, having completed an RSPH Level 2 in Understanding Behavioural Change qualification with Gateway that helped them to support new people with one-to-one coaching.Together we delivered a series of football activities that encouraged young people to think about not only the physical, but the mental and emotional benefits to exercise. Nithee Kotecha, Street League Birmingham Operations Manager said: “Many of the participants aspire to become football coaches in the future, or at least use sport as positive motivation. The Health Action Project gave them a chance to learn skills such as leadership, team work, communication and cooperation. Afterwards, they commented on how it was the highlight of their entire 10 week academy with Street League.”
Julie Taylor, FITCAP Project co-ordinator said: “The main focus of the activity camp was to have fun whilst exercising, playing sports outdoors and keeping fit. FITCAP hope to promote long term health and fitness to local young people.”
On Friday Year 11 students at Wodensborough Ormiston Academy launched their Health Action Project, ‘Fruity Friday’, which will give all staff and students weekly access to healthy smoothies and fresh juices, as well as an iPad with various apps that provide useful information on maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.
Over 200 students attended the launch, taste-testing the variety of fruits on offer and working hard on the smoothie bikes to make their own pedal-powered smoothies!
The Making Health Work legacy
As well as smashing through our targets and creating innumerable benefits for children and young people through the programme, we’ve also made some invaluable links with other organisations who share our aims and ethos.
Many of the young people who have been involved with the Health Action Projects have completed training with Gateway, giving them qualifications that they can take forward, and all have gained valuable experience which has helped them to become more employable. Many have gone on to do more voluntary work, including as part of the Gateway Volunteer Befrienders programme.
And, in one case, we are delighted to say it has led directly to employment: Health Ambassador Josh has recently been recruited as a Gateway Health Trainer! We hope to feature his journey from volunteer to full time employment in a future blog post, so watch this space.
Finally, one of the schoolchildren who participated in ‘Fruity Friday’ said something that we think sums up the whole idea of Making Health Work: “I’ve learnt that health is about your mental and physical health – both need to be balanced to be healthy. I’ve also learnt that I should share my ideas because they can be developed, and I’ve improved my confidence by joining the project.”